4 Ways To Lead Through Crisis and Stay Relevant

Leadership is hard. If you are a leader of just about anything, you already know this. 

Right now leaders are leading in uncharted territory and the pressure is greater than ever. 

This is all new. We are all learning as we go, wondering and asking the who, what, when and how. Praying in hopes of getting these answers.

Ministry as we know it has almost completely shutdown and leaders are scrambling to come up with solutions and alternatives.

We're learning new things and new lessons. 

One thing for sure. Leading through this requires everything you preach to others about. 

It’s going to require that you put into action the words you say you believe. 

It requires you to come out of your comfort zone, step out on faith, and not be slothful about it. 
The longer you delay the worst it will get for you and your organization. 

How you lead during a crisis will determine your relevance when the crisis is over.

This post is part of my growing leading through crisis series which you can access for Free below: 

The early numbers and analysis of the affects and impact the Coronavirus is having on ministry are in. 

Barna Group conducted a survey of 500 church leaders after the first week of lockdowns, shutdowns and livestreaming for churches. Here's some of what they found.

Pastors and ministry leaders were asked:

  • How are you and your family doing? 64% said they were doing well.

  • 63% (2 out of 3) said that COVID-19 has affected the overall well being of their church and has had a major impact on the lives of those their leading.

  • 82% said their small groups and bible studies have been affected.

  • 10% said that funerals have been affected.

  • 8% of baptisms affected.

  • 9% of weddings affected.

  • Only 5% (As of March 23, 2020) said their places of worship was open for normal services but with precautions. I'm sure this number is at 100% going into the third week.

These numbers are expected to increase as the virus spreads and the shutdowns continue.

Here are 4 ways to lead through this crisis and stay relevant. I've also included more data from the Barna survey.

  1. Have A Plan 

    In an earlier video I asked the question. If this crisis lasts longer than we expect, and for many leaders it has, what’s your next plan? 

    If you are asked or forced to suspend church or group meetings and gatherings of any kind, what's your next move? 

    This crisis has taken many leaders by surprise, never expecting it to last more than a week. At the same time, it has forced many to take steps they were warned about years ago. 

    That’s the one good thing about a crisis. It forces you to do the things you should have done. It forces you out of a “church as usual” mindset

    Now you understand why it’s time to adapt and change.

    Hopefully if leaders have learned anything during this crisis, it’s that it’s time to break the rules of ministry.

    To lead through this crises, leaders will have to use and become familiar with the current technology and figure out how to disciple in a digital context.

    Returning to the way things use to be is not a plan, and for the most part, nor will you be able to.  

  2. Understand Your Digital Platform

    Less than 40% of ministry has ever offered anything digital until now. Most ministry leaders have never given any thought on how to use their digital platforms, until this crisis.

    Facebook has never seen live streaming this huge. There are more Churches live streaming than ever before. 

    We are witnessing the power of digital outreach and how it can unite and reach the community in numbers that traditional outreach never could.

    However, according to the early numbers in the Barna survey, 31% of leaders said that their organization still hasn't done any livestreaming.

    For some time now I have been writing and talking about why ministry and their leaders should be leveraging social media more, and why it should be an extinction of your brick and mortar place of worship

    The days of thinking that you can reach the world with the gospel with only a building are gone. Your digital platform can reach far more souls beyond your building.

    Leveraging your digital platform will help you reach people who haven't been reached, anytime, anywhere, every single day and not just on Sunday.

  3. Communicate to Stay Relevant

    Communicating with those you lead is the key to staying relevant in a time of crisis. So stay connected. Don’t go an entire week without communicating with those you lead.

    In the Barna survey, 27% of ministry leaders said they experienced a decrease in online attendance the first week of streaming.

    26% said that online attendance was higher than they've ever had.

    5% said online attendance remained the same. This means about 74% of attendance was lower or leaders were not sure or had no way of measuring their attendance numbers.

    Now more than ever, it is important that you use your 167 hours wisely. This is the number of hours you have from the time you finish your sermon, until the time you see your group or congregation again the following Sunday.

    I strongly suggest that ministries and organizations post and schedule a video or livestream three times a week minimum, and at least 2 livestreams or pre-recorded videos of the weekly sermon twice on the weekend. 

    As a leader, you need to understand that you are not the only voice influencing those you lead.

    Once again, If those you lead are not hearing your voice during a crisis, it will determine your relevance when the crisis is over.

    According to the Barna survey, churches who had an increase in online attendance tended to be larger ministries of 250 or more and led by leaders 45 and younger. This is because younger leaders are more accustomed and have more experience with digital and social platforms as a means to communicate.

    Now more than ever is the time to show leadership. In my resource 10 Reasons, Young Adults are Leaving Your Place of Worship, one of the reasons young adults listed as for why they leave is because of the leader's failure to communicate.  

  4. Minimize The Financial Impact

    Now that many states and cities have gone to almost total lockdown because of possible transmission of the coronavirus, many outreach, church ministries, and other non-profits are taking a financial hit.

    64% of pastors and ministry leaders surveyed by Barna said that their giving has been impacted.

    2 out of 3 said that their giving has been down since the first week of lockdowns.

    62% said that giving was down.

    38% saw a huge decrease in giving, and 26% said giving was down slightly.

    34% said giving remained the same and 1 to 2% said they had an increase in giving.

    So how do you become financially sustainable in this new era of digital ministry?

    First, your organization, if it hasn’t done so, needs to be into and understand digital giving.

    Now more than ever, your online platform should include a way for people to give online.


    Because this crisis has and will change many things about ministry. One of which is how it primarily receives financial donations. 

    Digital giving will now be the preferred option for all generations. 

    Did you now that on average, those who give online give 33% to 44% more than those who use traditional giving methods. 

    In my digital resource, ONLINE GIVING: Why Your Organization's Not Getting Any, one of the things I share with you is the importance of having a giving button or link visible enough so that people can see it. 

    Offering a digital option for giving makes it possible for people to give. So, don’t make it impossible for people to give by limiting them to an analog experience. 

    When it comes to giving there are ups and downs, peaks and lows throughout the year but especially during the summer. The Coronavirus outbreak and shutdown has added to this and so I would treat this as if it were summertime.

    I was talking with a leader the other day, and I told him that every time you go live or do a video, you should encourage giving and direct viewers of your livestream or video to your giving button or link on your online platform. 

    I suggest doing this 3 times. After the introduction and prayer. Again somewhere in the middle of your message, teaching or updates. Then again at the end of the video.

    The same energy leaders use encouraging people to give to their organizations in the past, is the same energy that should be used to encourage people to give online.

    Remember to always thank and encourage those you lead as well as those new to your digital campus for tuning in and for giving online. 
As you lead through uncharted territory during this crisis it's OK to experiment to determine what's best for you and your organization, as long as it doesn't put anyone at risk.

The most important thing we want to remember during this crisis is that the methods of ministry will and have changed. But the is mission (souls) remains the same.


Popular Posts This Week

6 Ways to Influence Change When You're Not In Charge

Muhammad Ali: What Christians Should Understand